Graduating with top honours

Apache Stanbol and Apache Airavata promoted to Top-Level Project status

Chris Mayer

The ninth and tenth projects this year to become a TLP is a semantic CMS Java stack and the Elephant of the Clouds

The Apache Software Foundation show little sign of slowing down after 2012’s first quarter of unprecedented growth. The latest projects to gain Top-Level Project status (the ninth and tenth this year) and emerge from incubation is Apache Stanbol, which provides a set of new semantic CMS components and  the framework managing Apache Airavata.

Apache Stanbol, an open Java stack that has been in the works since 2010, intends to enhance bog-standard content management systems into semantic engines. Its modular approach (through Apache Felix OSGI ) enables users to pick and choose components as they wish, and all components are reachable through a RESTful web service API.

Aside from Apache Stanbol Enhancer, which injects semantic information to ‘non-semantic’ pieces of content, the project also features reasoners, which can retrieve additional semantic information. The Ontology Manager creates a controlled environment to manipulate the semantic data models and Apache Stanbol Contenthub is an Apache Solr document store for the information.


Vice President of Apache Stanbol, Fabian Christ explained that “the graduation also acknowledges the success of Apache Stanbol in bringing semantic technologies and content management communities together.” It certainly feels like a merging of the areas that previously weren’t so intertwined.

Initially beginning life at the European Union’s IKS EU Research Project, Stanbol entered the Apache Incubator in November 2010 and was quickly touted as the semantic framework of the future.

Whilst Stanbol shouldn’t be considered a semantic searching solution, it should prove useful in small doses for anyone look to add value to their management system, making it tailored to users needs.

The second project to graduate to TLP status is software toolkit Apache Airavata (a Hindu god of a white elephant also dubbed the elephant of the Clouds), showing great potential. Currently used to manage science gateways, the team behind the project are aiming higher, claiming Airavata is capable of executing, monitoring and managing applications in local cluster or right up to the Cloud. Apache Airavata provides APIs, sophisticated server-side tools, and graphical user interfaces under a minimalist modular architecture, essentially simplifying the workflow process for novices.

The project also links up with other Apache stalwarts, such as social media mashup engine Apache Rave to provide widget-like interfaces for backend services. Airavata also hopes to leverage Apache Tika for greater data understanding.

Airavata is already picking up some admirers, as it is already adopted at science institutions like Science Gateways ParamChem and the BioVLab Project, amongst others.

The challenge now for both is to gain a greater foothold in the open source world, and in turn generate a greater community. With the Apache seal of approval, they might just get it. Find all the documentation you need at Airavata and Stanbol’s websites.

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